The Cognitive Revolution! Wow!

The Cognitive Revolution! Wow!

Whether you’re a patient, therapist, or general citizen, you might enjoy my interview on The Cognitive Revolution on Stanford’s radio station KZSU,  published yesterday.

It was an incredibly fun and energetic interview. They plan to re-broadcast it to let more people know about the benefits of CBT, as well as the new TEAM-CBT.

Here is a link to the interview:  http://www.modernteknews.com. The radio station reported that they got a strong and positive response to the program, and I hope you like it, too!

 * * *

And if you need training, CE credits, or just four days of fantastic training and personal refueling, attend one of my summer intensives. The Calgary program is coming up REALLY SOON but if you move fast, you can still register!

High-Speed Treatment of Depression and Anxiety Disorders—

Attend one of the three Summer / Fall Intensives

With David D. Burns, MD!

Two Great Locations—

Calgary, July 15 to 18, 2019

South San Francisco, July 29 to August 1, 2019

Atlanta, Georgia,November 4 – 7, 2019

 Learn powerful new tools to boost your effectiveness in the treatment of depression and all of the anxiety disorders! Discover how TEAM-CBT can produce extremely rapid and lasting changes for your depressed and anxious clients—and for you.

This workshop will be experiential. You will have the chance to practice lots of innovative techniques in small groups and get immediate feedback so you can refine your skills. You’ll also have the chance to work on your own feelings of self-doubt so you can leave this workshop on a high, with renewed confidence and excitement about your clinical work.

This dynamic workshop offers:

  • State-of-the-art TEAM-CBT techniques for depression and all of the anxiety disorders.
  • Powerful new methods for the treatment of habits and addictions—your own and your clients’!
  • Innovative resistance-busting techniques to boost patient motivation and eliminate “yes-butting.” Learn to pinpoint and eliminate the eight most common forms of therapeutic resistance.
  • Live demonstrations and video clips from actual therapy sessions.
  • Powerful Relapse Prevention Training for lasting results.
  • Lots of fun and the chance to get some much-needed emotional refueling!

The annual intensives are almost always the best workshops of the year. If you can join us this year, they will be even better!

This workshop has been approved for Levels 1 through 3 TEAM-CBT Certification
and is s
uitable for novice as well as highly experienced therapists.
Of course, you’ll get tons of CE credits as well.

The two intensives will be similar, but there are some differences that may be important to you.

Special features at this year’s South SF intensive

  • Sunny Choi will be speaking on “TEAM with Compassion.” Sunny spoke last year and was amazing, so he is returning, as they say, “by popular demand.” He describes incredible, high-speed TEAM therapy to populations with severe problems and extremely limited resources, including immigrants who do not speak English.
  • Dr. Jill Levitt will be joining me as co-therapist for the live demonstration on the evening of day 1. In past years, these dramatic live demos have provided tremendous opportunities for learning. If you have never seen Jill, this will be a real treat for you!
  • I will be joined by many expert helpers from the Feeling Good Institute who will help provide feedback for you during the many practice sessions.
  • There will be two amazing evening sessions to add depth to your training. You’ll be totally exhausted, but chock-full of incredible new skills and insights that can change the direction of your career and transform your personal life as well.

Special features at this year’s Calgary, Canada intensive

  • The three optional evening hikes / meals together will be a highlight for many. While hiking, you will have chances for personal work with David, Q and A, difficult case consultation, and additional practice with the new techniques you are learning.
  • If you don’t want to hike, you can enjoy your evenings with friends or family and refuel for the next day.
  • There will be a live demo on the morning of day 2. In past years, these live therapy sessions have been inspirational and wonderfully informative. Last year’s live therapy demonstration in Whistler was jaw-dropping!
  • And, as you probably know, Jack Hirose always puts on an amazing event, designed to provide you with maximum comfort, delight, and learning!

In both workshops, David promises to catapult at least 65% of the participants into a state of joyous enlightenment. Would you like to finally free yourself from feelings of self-doubt and endless obsessions about whether you’re “good enough?” Check out the registration links now!

Feeling good feels wonderful! You owe it to yourself to feel good! Join me in

Calgary

or

South San Francisco!

David Burns, MD

Here’s a photo of my esteemed colleague, Mike Christensen, at a recent Canadian workshop.

IMG_20180607_100631_1

 

David’s Ted Talk

David’s Ted Talk

If you or your clients want a brief introduction to cognitive therapy with some inspiring examples of how it works, you may enjoy my Ted Talk in Reno. You’ll learn about the intense anxiety I struggled with after the birth of my son, Erik, when he was placed in the neonatal intensive care unit because of difficulties breathing. You’ll also learn how I got hooked on cognitive therapy in the early days, working with an elderly Latvian immigrant who had just been discharged from the intensive care unit for a serious suicide attempt. She thought she was worthless because she’d never accomplished anything of importance.

Did you or your patients ever feel that way?

You can check out this description of the talk in the Huffington Post. Here’s a link to the talk.

And if you need training, CE credits, or just four days of fantastic training and personal refueling, attend one of my summer intensives. The Calgary program is coming up REALLY SOON but if you move fast, you can still register!

High-Speed Treatment of Depression and Anxiety Disorders—

Attend the Summer Intensive

With David D. Burns, MD!

Two Great Locations—

Calgary, July 15 to 18, 2019

South San Francisco, July 29 to August 1, 2019

 Learn powerful new tools to boost your effectiveness in the treatment of depression and all of the anxiety disorders! Discover how TEAM-CBT can produce extremely rapid and lasting changes for your depressed and anxious clients—and for you.

This workshop will be experiential. You will have the chance to practice lots of innovative techniques in small groups and get immediate feedback so you can refine your skills. You’ll also have the chance to work on your own feelings of self-doubt so you can leave this workshop on a high, with renewed confidence and excitement about your clinical work.

This dynamic workshop offers:

  • State-of-the-art TEAM-CBT techniques for depression and all of the anxiety disorders.
  • Powerful new methods for the treatment of habits and addictions—your own and your clients’!
  • Innovative resistance-busting techniques to boost patient motivation and eliminate “yes-butting.” Learn to pinpoint and eliminate the eight most common forms of therapeutic resistance.
  • Live demonstrations and video clips from actual therapy sessions.
  • Powerful Relapse Prevention Training for lasting results.
  • Lots of fun and the chance to get some much-needed emotional refueling!

The annual intensives are almost always the best workshops of the year. If you can join us this year, they will be even better!

This workshop has been approved for Levels 1 through 3 TEAM-CBT Certification
and is s
uitable for novice as well as highly experienced therapists.
Of course, you’ll get tons of CE credits as well.

The two intensives will be similar, but there are some differences that may be important to you.

Special features at this year’s South SF intensive

  • Sunny Choi will be speaking on “TEAM with Compassion.” Sunny spoke last year and was amazing, so he is returning, as they say, “by popular demand.” He describes incredible, high-speed TEAM therapy to populations with severe problems and extremely limited resources, including immigrants who do not speak English.
  • Dr. Jill Levitt will be joining me as co-therapist for the live demonstration on the evening of day 1. In past years, these dramatic live demos have provided tremendous opportunities for learning. If you have never seen Jill, this will be a real treat for you!
  • I will be joined by many expert helpers from the Feeling Good Institute who will help provide feedback for you during the many practice sessions.
  • There will be two amazing evening sessions to add depth to your training. You’ll be totally exhausted, but chock-full of incredible new skills and insights that can change the direction of your career and transform your personal life as well.

Special features at this year’s Calgary, Canada intensive

  • The three optional evening hikes / meals together will be a highlight for many. While hiking, you will have chances for personal work with David, Q and A, difficult case consultation, and additional practice with the new techniques you are learning.
  • If you don’t want to hike, you can enjoy your evenings with friends or family and refuel for the next day.
  • There will be a live demo on the morning of day 2. In past years, these live therapy sessions have been inspirational and wonderfully informative. Last year’s live therapy demonstration in Whistler was jaw-dropping!
  • And, as you probably know, Jack Hirose always puts on an amazing event, designed to provide you with maximum comfort, delight, and learning!

In both workshops, David promises to catapult at least 65% of the participants into a state of joyous enlightenment. Would you like to finally free yourself from feelings of self-doubt and endless obsessions about whether you’re “good enough?” Check out the registration links now!

Feeling good feels wonderful! You owe it to yourself to feel good! Join me in

Calgary

or

South San Francisco!

David Burns, MD

Here’s a photo of my esteemed colleague, Mike Christensen, at a recent Canadian workshop.

IMG_20180607_100631_1

 

Feedback on Bibliotherapy Podcast

Feedback on Bibliotherapy Podcast

Every day I receive wonderful emails from individuals like you who have heard the Feeling Good Podcasts or read my books or blogs. I just got this amazing email from a fellow named Pete after he listened to the latest podcast on Bibliotherapy. He kindly gave me permission to share it with all of you! 

Dear Doctor Burns,

Your book, Feeling Good, has changed my life. After stagnating for two and a half years in three different types of therapy and getting more depressed, I was shown ‘Feeling Good‘ by a social worker. I read on the page exactly what I was doing that created my anger and depression.

I also learnt what perfectionism really was and its negative effects. So I thought… “If I’m doing this to myself, (through my thinking) I’m going to stop doing it.”

That very moment saw the end of my depression, anger and general unhappiness. By removing my cognitive distortions, it was liberating to discover that I was not at the mercy of other people’s behavior. It wasn’t what other people were doing that was affecting me but rather it was my own thoughts!

I feel that I can cope with anything now. I also have recommended this book to many people so David gets the big bucks! A big thanks to David for all his hard work.

Pete

What Pete “discovered” is not new–Epictetus said the same thing nearly 2,000 years ago, and it is very basic–but it is SO basic that it’s hard to “get” at first. When you suddenly comprehend this notion, that we are all creating our own emotional reality at every moment of every day, you can experience enlightenment. It’s not just feeling a bit less depressed, but a transforming and remarkable experience that’s available to all of us!

One small warning. The Buddha said that we all drift in and out of enlightenment. This means that the negative distorted thoughts WILL return, for all of us! That’s why Relapse Prevention Training is so important.

To learn more about any topic, you can use the search function in the right-hand panel of every page on my website. You’ll really like it! 

David Burns, MD

* * *

Would you like to learn more about TEAM-CBT?

Check Out these Four Cool Upcoming Workshops for You!

The first is coming up SOON!

ACT FAST if you want to reserve a seat. 

TEAM-CBT Methods for Anxiety Disorders:

Step-by-Step Training for Therapists

David Burns, MD and Jill Levitt, PhD

When? Sunday May 19th, 2019

8:30 am-4:30 pm PST (11:30 am-7:30 pm EST)

Live Online One Day Workshop

$135, 7 CE hours available

Therapists at all levels are welcome.

Learn new skills to reduce resistance and boost patient’s motivation to change. Practice powerful, practical TEAM-CBT techniques to help your patients overcome every form of anxiety rapidly.

  • Lively, amusing, and immensely useful day of online training
  • Online support and dynamic small group training
  • David and Jill will use a combination of didactic teaching, live demonstrations, and breakout group practice with emphasis on skill building.
  • Workshop will stream live and is easily accessible from anywhere on any device with WiFi. To join, just click on the link provided before the workshop.
  • Completion of this workshop counts towards TEAM-CBT Level 1, 2 or 3 Certification
  • Awesome brief videos
  • Learn how to treat GAD, OCD, Panic Attacks, Social Anxiety, Phobias, PTSD, and more

We Are Sold Out in Person–

But Online Slots are Still Available

 

Don’t miss out on learning from David and Jill, the “dynamic duo”–

TEAM-CBT for Anxiety Disorders–

Step-by-Step Training for Therapists


AND

There will be three awesome intensives

for you this summer and fall!

July 15 – 18, 2019

Calgary, Canada four-day intensive

Sponsored by Jack Hirose & Assoc.

July 29 – August 1, 2019

South San Francisco four-day intensive

Sponsored by Praxis

November 4 – 7, 2019

Atlanta, Georgia four-day intensive

Sponsored by Praxis

Anxiety Workshop This Month! Online Slots Still Available!

Anxiety Workshop This Month! Online Slots Still Available!

Don’t miss out on learning from the “dynamic duo”–

David Burns, MD and Jill Levitt, PhD


TEAM-CBT Methods for Anxiety Disorders:

Step-by-Step Training for Therapists

Coming up SOON!

Sunday May 19th, 2019

8:30 am-4:30 pm PST (11:30 am-7:30 pm EST)

Live Online One Day Workshop

$135, 7 CE hours available

Therapists at all levels are welcome.

Learn new skills to reduce resistance and boost patient’s motivation to change. Practice powerful, practical TEAM-CBT techniques to help your patients overcome every form of anxiety rapidly.

  • Lively, amusing, and immensely useful day of online training
  • Online support and dynamic small group training
  • David and Jill will use a combination of didactic teaching, live demonstrations, and breakout group practice with emphasis on skill building.
  • Workshop will stream live and is easily accessible from anywhere on any device with WiFi. To join, just click on the link provided before the workshop.
  • Completion of this workshop counts towards TEAM-CBT Level 1, 2 or 3 Certification
  • Awesome brief videos
  • Learn how to treat GAD, OCD, Panic Attacks, Social Anxiety, Phobias, PTSD, and more

We Are Sold Out in Person–

But Online Slots are Still Available

REGISTER / LEARN MORE

Jill and I hope to see you at the workshop! We promise it will be fun, helpful, and exciting for you! 

David Burns, MD

David and Jill Show #4: Treatment of OCD

David and Jill Show #4: Treatment of OCD

Watch the fourth David and Jill Show on the Treatment of OCD!

Hi all!

The fourth David and Jill Show on the treatment of OCD with guest Mike Christensen will start at 3 PM. Show #3 has set a new record of more than 2 thousand viewers in the first week alone. You can still watch it!

During the show, we will also answer questions from those who attend the show live. We’ll have a lot of energy and ideas to share, so join us if you can!

The Feeling Good Podcast last Monday–live therapy with Daisy–also drew exceptionally well and was enthusiastically received. In fact, this month it looks like we will set a new record with more than 40,000 downloads! Thank you all for your support!

During the session with Daisy, we address the question, “What’s the secret of a meaningful life?” We also discuss the empowerment of women, and the intimidating messages women often hear from society, and from families when growing up. Make sure you catch it if you have not listened yet!

Also, remember to register for the one-day David and Jill workshop on Sunday, May 20, 2018. It’s for mental health professionals. You’ll have a chance to learn the latest TEAM-CBT techniques and work on your own insecurities and feelings of self-doubt as well. We promise to bring roughly 60% of the audience into a state of joyous enlightenment, so don’t miss it!

David

Advanced, High-Speed TEAM-CBT for the Treatment of Depression and Anxiety:
A Workshop for Therapists with Drs. David Burns and Jill Levitt

 

David and Jill Show #3 Sets Record!

David and Jill Show #3 Sets Record!

Watch the Third David and Jill Show on Intimacy Training!

Hi all!

The third David and Jill Show on Intimacy Training with guest Mike Christensen has set a new record of 1.6 thousand viewers in the first two days alone. You can still watch it!

David and Jill begin by reading a question from a viewer named Don who was having a conflict with his girlfriend. David, Jill, and Mike go review the five steps of the Relationship Journal and show how Don how he can transform his argument into a more open and loving dialogue using the Five Secrets of Effective Communication. During the show, Jill notices a live viewer who wrote, “I don’t like Jill” in the comment column. You will LOVE Jill’s masterful response, which illustrates the whole point of the show in real time. Then Mike describes how he bravely handled a painful criticism from his daughter who complained that he sounded phony.

Many people believe that the Relationship Journal is all about learning how to communicate more effectively, but it’s not. It’s really about the “Great Death” of the ego and how to develop interpersonal enlightenment. It’s a spiritual tool, which is exciting, but be careful–the death of the ego can be painful! Of course, the reward of greater trust and love is definitely worthwhile. The third David and Jill Show is definitely a “must see” show, and you can catch it any time that’s convenient for you.

Yesterday’s Feeling Good Podcast–live therapy with Daisy–also drew exceptionally well and was enthusiastically received. During the session, they address the question, “What’s the secret of a meaningful life?” Make sure you catch it if you have not listened yet!

Also, remember to register for the one-day David and Jill workshop on Sunday, May 20, 2018. It’s for mental health professionals. You’ll have a chance to learn the latest TEAM-CBT techniques and work on your own insecurities and feelings of self-doubt as well. We promise to bring roughly 60% of the audience into a state of joyous enlightenment, so don’t miss it!

David

Advanced, High-Speed TEAM-CBT for the Treatment of Depression and Anxiety:
A Workshop for Therapists with Drs. David Burns and Jill Levitt

 

Another Cool Video for You! The “Niceness” Disease!

Another Cool Video for You! The “Niceness” Disease!

Here is another cool short video from Jill Levitt, PhD, who is the Director of Training at the Feeling Good Institute in Mt. View, California, and Taylor Chesney, PhD, who is he Director of Training at the Feeling Good Institute in New York City. But you might enjoy it more if you read the material below the video first!

 

Scenes from a Sunday hike:

 

I have always emphasized the importance of personal healing for therapists, as part of their development as psychotherapists and their growth as human beings. In this video, Dr. Taylor Chesney remembers one of my Sunday hikes when she did some personal healing and came to understand the Hidden Emotion Technique in much greater depth. Something sudden and unexpected happened that had a profound effect on Taylor’s life.

Because Dr. Levitt wasn’t there when Taylor and I were doing our work, I will share a tad of additional information that might illuminate Taylor’s experience while hiking. First, Taylor asked if I could help her with some sudden anxiety she had about transitioning to her private practice at the end of her post-doctoral training. She was extremely anxious and had negative thoughts like, “I won’t get any referrals,” and “My practice will be a failure,” and “I won’t be able to help anyone,” and things along those lines.

Taylor could easily identify the distortions in her thoughts, which included Fortune Telling (making arbitrary negative predictions), Discounting the Positive (since she was highly regarded by everyone in our training program and was already getting many referrals, and had tons of patients who were doing great because of her superb skills), Emotional Reasoning (I feel anxious, so I must be in danger,) and All-or-Nothing Thinking (viewing a private practice as either a smashing success or a total failure) to mention just a few of the cognitive distortions in her negative thoughts. However, Taylor simply could not come up with positive thoughts that effectively crushed the negative thoughts, so she continued to believe them, even though on some level she could see that the negative thoughts were simply not true. She kept clinging to the irrational belief that she’d get no referrals and be totally ineffective in her clinical work, and so forth.

Then I asked myself “why” Dr. Chesney was being so unreasonable, since she was really a sweet, smart, and enthusiastic individual. I began to think about the Hidden Emotion Model, which can be incredibly helpful in the treatment of anxiety, especially when patients seem stuck. The idea behind the Hidden Emotion Technique is that only “nice” people develop anxiety disorders, and it’s often because of some hidden feeling or conflict that the patient has not brought to conscious awareness. The Hidden Emotion or conflict is NOT something that’s buried in the past, it’s something that’s buried in the present–some ordinary thing that’s bugging the patient right now, but you can’t seem to “remember” what it is.

Sometimes the suppressed feeling is a negative one, like anger, but sometimes it can be a positive feeling, which turned out to be the case with Dr. Chesney. And usually, the anxiety is the symbolic expression of the conflict. Once you bring the Hidden Emotion to conscious awareness, and the patient deals with, you will nearly always see a dramatic and sudden reduction in the anxiety, or even a complete elimination of the anxiety.

Essentially, Dr. Chesney seemed to be saying, “private practice won’t work for me and you can’t convince me that I’ll be successful no matter what!” Could it be that some hidden feelings was getting in the way? If you haven’t yet watched the video, take a guess. Then watch the video and you’ll find out what the Hidden Emotion really was! After you’ve finished the brief video, you can link to my final comments if you’re interested in learning a little more.

You can also link to a previous blog on the Hidden Emotion Technique as well as two previous Feeling Good Podcasts on the causes and treatments for anxiety, including the Hidden Emotion Technique:

023: Scared Stiff — What Causes Anxiety? What’s the Cure? (Part 2)

027: Scared Stiff — The Hidden Emotion Model (Part 5)

David

If you are reading this blog on social media, I appreciate it! I would like to invite you to visit my website, http://www.FeelingGood.com, as well. There you will find a wealth of free goodies, including my Feeling Good blogs, my Feeling Good Podcasts with host, Dr. Fabrice Nye, and the Ask Dr. David blogs as well, along with announcements of upcoming workshops, and tons of resources for mental health professionals as well as patients!

Once you link to my blog, you can sign up using the widget at the top of the column to the right of each page. Please forward my blogs to friends as well, especially anyone with an interest in mood problems, psychotherapy, or relationship conflicts.

Thanks! David

Video Endorsement / Online TEAM-CBT Classes!

Video Endorsement / Online TEAM-CBT Classes!

 

Hi friends and colleagues,

You might enjoy this video from Mike Christensen, one of the rising stars in TEAM-CBT. He is about to start a 12-week online introductory course in TEAM-CBT limited to 14 therapists. There are only a couple slots left, so email him ASAP if you are interested. Mike is a terrific teacher and therapist, and a very compassionate individual! Highly recommended!

You will find a list of additional in-person and online training groups if you click here. Many of the groups are sponsored by the Feeling Good institute in Mt. View, California.  I endorse the training groups enthusiastically, but do not receive any financial compensation for endorsing them. I know they are wonderful teachers and I take great pride in what they have accomplished and satisfaction in supporting their efforts! You will also find information on many weekly in-person training groups, including my own 2 1/2 hour training group every Tuesday evening at Stanford, and it is totally free of charge. For details, click here.

David

 

Here is a cool endorsement for Mike Christensen that just arrived in my mailbox today (Monday, May 8, 2017), following publication of this blog:

Hi everyone,

I can attest to Mike’s skill, passion and all-around great-guy-ness. Anyone could learn a ton from him and enjoy themselves thoroughly in the process. If you are thinking about this class…. just do it!!

Dr. Annie Hanaway

If you are reading this blog on social media, I appreciate it! I would like to invite you to visit my website, http://www.FeelingGood.com, as well. There you will find a wealth of free goodies, including my Feeling Good blogs, my Feeling Good Podcasts with host, Dr. Fabrice Nye, and the Ask Dr. David blogs as well, along with announcements of upcoming workshops, and resources for mental health professionals as well as patients!

Once you link to my blog, you can sign up using the widget at the top of the column to the right of each page. Please firward my blogs to friends as well, especially anyone with an interest in mood problems, psychotherapy, or relationship conflicts.

Thanks! David

How to Find Your “True Calling” in Life!

How to Find Your “True Calling” in Life!

Dear David,

First of all, I would like to tell you that using the methods in your many wonderful books has changed my life!!

I have a question and it would be great to get your input. I work as a team leader/software engineer in a software company. I like my profession (I enjoy programming and managing) but I also care deeply about the environment and animals. (I also volunteer in an environmental non-profit organization). This situation leads to a recurring thought that causes me a lot of suffering: “I’m wasting my life when I’m working in this job (software).”

I feel that my life calling is working with animals/helping the environment and as long as I’m not working at that I’m wasting my life. Is this true? Am I wasting my life?

Is this the hidden emotion (elephant in the room) that causes this thought?

I really need your help!

Thanks, Sharon (name disguised)

 

Hi Sharon,

Thanks for your questions! It is spirit-uplifting that you have idealistic goals. My wife and I are also concerned about the environment and the welfare of animals.

I cannot give medical advice, or do therapy in this medium. I can only give some general ideas, but perhaps you will find them useful or interesting.

First, this might be the Hidden Emotion phenomenon, and it might not be. For example, let’s say there’s something else that’s bothering you that you are kind of pushing out of your mind. Perhaps there’s a conflict of some kind with a boyfriend, or a girlfriend, or a family member. Or perhaps someone is pushing you to loan them money, and you are tempted to give in because you’re so “nice,” but you don’t really want to. Or maybe there is a problem of some kind at work that you’re avoiding. It could be anything.

These are just examples of the kinds of conflicts that overly “nice” individuals sometimes tend to avoid.

If this is going on, then the obsessing about your career could, in fact, be a way of not dealing with the real issue. If this turns out to be the case, then you are a darn good detective! But you’re the only one who will be able to say one way or the other. If you open your mind to this possibility, some problem you’ve been avoiding might suddenly pop into your mind. Then if you deal with it more directly, the obsessions about your career might diminish or suddenly disappear. But this is just a possibility.

On the other hand, it might not be the Hidden Emotion phenomenon, but simply genuine ambivalence about your career. You do enjoy your career, which is great, but you are telling yourself that you “should” be doing something more meaningful with your career and with your life. Should Statements are one of the ten cognitive distortions, as you may know if you’ve read any of my books or listened to my two podcasts on negative and positive distortions.

We could view your career concerns as a genuine decision-making issue, but there are really two different decisions involved. The first decision is whether or not you want to change careers. The second decision is whether or not you want to beat yourself up by telling yourself, “I’m wasting my life because I’m working in software development.”

It might be useful for you to do a Cost-Benefit Analysis. Draw a line down the middle of a piece of paper and label the left-hand column Advantages and the right-hand column Disadvantages. You can put the negative thought that is bothering you at the top of the page. This is the thought: “I’m wasting my life working in software.”

Then list the Advantages and Disadvantages of believing that thought and beating up on yourself about your career, and balance them against each other on a 100-point scale. Is it 50-50? 60-40>? 35-65?

To make this easier for you, I’ve attached a CBA for that you can download if you CLICK HERE. You will see that your negative thought is already at the top of the page for you.

Notice that this is NOT a decision about your career. It is a decision about obsessing and making yourself unhappy about your career.

One advantage of telling yourself that you are wasting your life is that it might motivate you to change professions, so you will be more likely to pursue your goal. Another advantage might be that your self-criticism shows that you are a very caring and idealistic person, and not someone who ignores real problems in our society. A third advantage might be that your negative thought could be a kind of “moral punishment” for doing what you enjoy—software development! After all, many cultures and religions throughout history have felt that it is a sin to be happy and to enjoy yourself!

Another advantage of criticizing yourself is that it shows how humble you are, and how willing you are to examine your life in a serious and accountable way. And humility is a spiritual quality.

Yet another advantage is that your self-criticisms show that you have high standards, and those high standards have likely motivating you to accomplish a great deal in your career! And that’s definitely a good thing.

You can likely think of more advantages, and I’m just giving examples.

And you may conclude, after making this list, that you want to keep criticizing yourself. There is nothing wrong with that!

Then you could list any possible disadvantages of your negative thought in the right-hand column. For example, if you are not actually planning to change professions any time soon, then one disadvantage would be that you’re making yourself unhappy, and perhaps unnecessarily. And you might be able to list some more disadvantages as well.

After you complete you lists, put two numbers that add up to 100 in the circles at the bottom. The critical issue is not how many things you list in each column, but how they weigh out in your mind. What feels greater? The Advantages? Or the Disadvantages?

If the Advantages of the negative thought are greater, and you decide that that DO you want to continue criticizing yourself in this way, you could be to ask yourself how many minutes per day you want to devote to beating yourself up. Would five minutes be enough? Thirty minutes? Then you could schedule time each day to sit and make yourself miserable with a barrage of self-critical thoughts. At the end of your scheduled “Worry Break,” you could go back to joyous, happy living.

In addition, you could do two additional Cost-Benefit Analyses (CBAs). First, you could list the advantages and disadvantages of sticking with your current career. Then you could do a second CBA, listing the advantages and disadvantages of switching to some type of career involving your love of animals or your commitment to saving the environment.

Here’s something else to think about that might also be interesting to you. There is no rule that says that you have to have one supreme “calling” in life that you totally devote yourself to. It can be more than enough just to have a job to support yourself. And if you enjoy your work, so much the better! And that might be enough to ask from your work as a software engineer.

You can still do things in your spare time, if you want, to pursue more idealistic causes, or other interests, and it sounds like you are already doing this. On my Sunday hikes with individuals from my free weekly TEAM-CBT training groups at Stanford, we see volunteers in the Palo Alto Foothill Park removing invasive plants and weeds that do not belong in this area. They are doing something for the environment.

In my case, I devote a lot of volunteer time each year teaching and training therapists, and even helping them with personal issues in my training groups for community therapists at Stanford, and during our Sunday hikes as well. It is all totally free,, and it gives me a lot of pleasure!

My wife and I also devote enormous time to abandoned cats that we take in, and we absolutely love them! We have a small orchard and grow tons of apples that we feed to the many grateful deer in this area in the fall. The deer sometimes make a home in our front yard and sleep under our old plum tree! We love them! When they are hungry, the mother deer comes close to our house and stares into one of the windows. When I notice that, I go out and toss out about 75 or 100 apples for them, which they quickly devour!

You can also support political candidates who support your goals and causes.

In short, life does not have to have one calling, one purpose, or one meaning. You can have as many goals, purposes, and meanings as you want! The idea that your MUST have a career that involves some lofty goal is often just a trap, just another “should.”

Do you know that in the middle of my psychotherapy career, I suddenly got the urge to pursue a career in table tennis? That might sound goofy, but it’s true!

I had been really good in table tennis as a kid, and in college, too, but had never had any formal training. So I completely gave up my clinical practice and purchased a ball machine and video camera in the garage, and hired a professional table tennis coach who called himself Ernie the Black Pearl of the Caribbean. He had just moved to Philadelphia and was looking for people to coach, so I paid him to coach me 20 hours a week for about six months. He was the Caribbean champion and was phenomenally skillful. It was strenuous Olympic type training for four hours each morning, Monday through Friday.

I also purchased an Olympic table tennis table from Sweden, as well as costly Swedish rackets with special rubber on both sides that created increased spin and speed when you hit the ball.

Oh boy! I worked and worked on my table tennis. The game had changed completely from when I was a kid, so the training involved a lot of re-learning.

Then I saw a notice that there was going to be a four-day training camp at the Eastern Regional Table Tennis Training Center in Bethesda, Maryland. It appeared to be a training program for the US Olympic Team, and I called to ask if my son and I could attend. The woman who answered inquired about my national rank, and I explained that I did not yet have a rank, but that we were pretty good, etc etc. So agreed to register my son—who was about 15—and me in the program.

This was the chance of a lifetime! We were so excited that we got up at about 4 AM and drove from Philadelphia to Bethesda at 80 miles an hour the first morning of the program. We were the first to arrive, and the woman who greeted us at the door was the former US women’s table tennis champion. It was an amazing huge facility with Olympic tables and runways surrounded by fences so you’d have a large protected area to play at each table. She said my son and I could warm up while the other candidates were arriving.

We set each other up for slamming the ball, and I was thinking she’d be pretty impressed!

Then the other candidates starting arriving. They were these super athletic looking young men, and they brought their children with them. I thought, “Wow, that is so neat that these Olympic table tennis players are bring their children to watch!

About 25 people arrived, and then she announced, “Those who are registered for the four day training program please sit on this long bench.” My son and I jumped up eagerly and sat of the bench.

But to my dismay, as the other candidates arrived, we discovered it was a training program for children! This was NOT the Olympic team! My son and I were the oldest people there, except for one teenager who was 16!

Then she said she would match us up with other players to play a five game match, to see what our skill levels were. She matched me against an 11 year old named Jimmy who looked pretty nerdy. He had horn rimmed glasses and was barely tall enough for his head to be above the level of the table.

I thought, “Oh no, this is going to be pathetic. I’m going to crush this poor little boy, and it might demoralize him.

Before we started I asked him if he played a lot of table tennis, and if this was his main interest. He said, “I do play a little table tennis, doctor, but my main thing is squirrel hunting.”

To determine who serves first,  you hide the ball under the table in your right or left hand, and your opponent has to guess what hand it is in. If your opponent guesses correctly, he or she gets to serve first. But Jimmy generously said that wasn’t necessary and I could choose whether I wanted to serve or receive first.

I told him I wanted to serve, because I had learned these incredible, high-speed spinny serves that are virtually impossible to return in Sweden during a visit I made when I was in medical school. So I gave him a mind-boggling serve, just to let him know who was boss right away.

He was left-handed, so I served it in the direction of his forehand. The serve actually appears to go off the table, and then it curves back and hits the edge of table.

I served and it was a great one. But I suddenly heard a bang, like a firecracker, and the ball game back at over 100 miles an hour on the far edge of the table and bounced against the wall 35 feet behind the table. I did not miss it, because it came so fast I did not have time to swing at it! I could not believe what had just happened, and meekly announced the score, Love – 1! I tried another fantastic serve with the same result. And after three more “fantastic” serves, all returned by massive slams, it was Love – 5.

Then Jimmy said, “Doctor, maybe you should not use that type of serve. They were popular in Sweden about 20 years ago, but now everyone can smash them back. I asked what kinds of serves people were using now, and he said he’d show me.

Then he served an idiotic, slow serve that barely made it over the net, and I thought I could smash it back. But when I attempted to hit it, it went off at right angles, and I could not get it over the net! He had thrown it high in the air at the start of his serve, and then put some kind of fantastic spin on the ball, but blocked my site with his other arm, so I could not actually see what happened at the moment the ball hit his racked.

Then he did four more similar serves, all with the same result .Now it was my turn to serve again, and the score was Love – 10.

I lost five straight games to Jimmy, all by score of 21 to 0. Wow! It was stunning!

Then I asked Jimmy, “Do you have a rank or anything like?” He said, “Oh, I am second in the United States right now in my age division, but my main thing is shooting squirrels!” He winked as he said that, and then I saw what he meant!

Well, my excursion into the world of professional table tennis was quite the adventure, but I had to accept that I just could not get my body doing what my head wanted it to!

So I went back to something I was a little better at—psychotherapy and statistics (for research articles I was writing) and teaching. And I’ve enjoyed myself tremendously since then.

Still, I’ll never regret the time I decided to pursue my “true calling in life!”

Well, I’ll stop babbling now, but hope to hear from you!

David

Where Can I Find Your books?

Where Can I Find Your books?

Hi Dr. Burns,

Hello I was wondering do you still have the feel mood therapy workbook they no longer sell them in store or online and I’m a person that retain information if I can write will I’m reading, because I have the book and I’m not retaining the information very well

Thank you in Advance,

Shanta

Hi Shanta,

Thanks for the question. My books are all sold on Amazon, and other online book sellers, including:

  • Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy
  • The Feeling Good Handbook
  • Intimate Connections
  • Feeling Good Together
  • When Panic Attacks

Hope that helps! You had the names wrong, so appreciate the chance to clarify! Let me know if you like any of my books.

All the best,

David